Tuesday, March 20, 2012

on the farm

These days at the farm, there are spring flowers blooming, faces both familiar and new, favorite chores to tend to, and the unmistakeable feel of spring.

Happy first day of spring to you!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


The syrup season has come to a close this year. The early warmth has the leaves ready to unfold on our silver maples, and so the sap has stopped dripping, the taps have been pulled and the last of the syrup has been finished.

But before we put it all away for the year, we hosted our first sugaring party. The boys were up early, splitting wood and keeping the fire going strong under the sap boiling outside. Friends came to join the fun, bringing plates of food to go alongside the piles of freshly flipped pancakes.

Together, we emptied the last of the buckets, tasted the sap as it thickened on the stove, and drenched our plates with homegrown syrup. In a side-by-side taste test with a jar from the farmer's market, the kids all declared our syrup the winner.

This year, we purchased a proper evaporating pan for finishing the syrup on the stove. It made the final boildown a much quicker process. We finished two batches of syrup this season. Number one:

And number two:

Despite the extra taps this year, we ended up with just about the same amount of syrup as last year. To get a good sap run, you need nights below freezing and days above. Too many warm nights meant too little sap.

For us, it's enough, really. We'll have plenty to get through another year's worth of breakfasts and baking. We might even have a little extra to give away, just not as much as we had hoped to share.

And on those mornings when we top our breakfasts with the sweet stuff, we'll surely be remembering the joy of our first sugaring party, feeling gratitude for the way the whole syrup-making process pulls us out of winter, and looking ahead to the many sweetnesses next year's sugaring season will bring.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Though it hardly feels like winter even happened, all signs are pointing toward spring these days. It isn't marked by green sprouts yet, or the return of favorite birds, or the unfurling of leaf buds. Around here, the coming of spring is now marked by running sap.

With tools in hand and all the new spiles and buckets that came my way this Christmas, we more than tripled the number of taps we had last year. While I knew this would mean more sap, I don't think I was quite prepared for how fast those buckets would fill! Aided by the warm weather, we've gathered more than 70 quarts of sap since we tapped on Sunday and have already begun boiling it down.

The kids are excited to help with this work, eager to check the buckets each day and taste the clear, running sap straight from the trees.

Already the smell of the cooking sap has turned heavy and sweet, a good sign of what's to come, and a contributing factor to the sweet tooth we all have going on today. I think I just might go bake some cookies, to hold us over until there's syrup for tasting!